Mobile Marketing’s Must-Attend Events for Fall 2010

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

All of those figures add up to an enormous opportunity for brands and marketers, including those looking to add interactivity to advertising campaigns that center around traditional media such as print, broadcast and billboards. That’s because whether consumers are buying their first Java ME feature phone or upgrading from an older smartphone to the latest Apple iPhone, that handset is now one of the most effective ways to build a brand, promote products and distribute coupons, to name just a few ways that mobile marketing is used today.

But there are no slam dunks in mobile marketing. Success depends on understanding factors such as the types of mobile phones used in a particular market and how that affects campaign strategies.

For example, at the most recent Mobile Marketing Forum (MMA Forum), held June 7-9 during Internet Week New York, one speaker noted that in India, 33 percent of SMS traffic is media content and/or advertising. Why do so many mobile marketing campaigns there use SMS? Because virtually every handset and network in India supports text messaging, and because SMS is affordable for more of the population than other types of data services.

If you missed the New York MMA Forum, there are plenty of other opportunities to get up to speed on mobile marketing. The first is by checking out some of the success stories presented at the New York MMA Forum, such as Lipton Tea’s mobile campaign that grew sales 47 percent, or the several brands — from florist chains to detergents — that reported 20 percent response rates for their mobile campaigns. Those and other highlights are recapped on the blog of one of the event’s many renowned speakers, author Tomi Ahonen.

The second opportunity is to attend one or more of the upcoming MMA Forum events. Each one provides an overview of mobile marketing, along with actionable insights into the world region where the event is held. The next three MMA Forum events are:

Latin America: Coming Sept. 2 in São Paulo, Brazil, this event will feature case studies of successful campaigns in Brazil and other regional countries.

Europe, Middle East and Africa: On Oct. 5-6, MMA’s Forum series will bring together leading marketers from across the world to share their experiences, challenges and successes with the mobile channel.

North America:
The final 2010 Forum on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles will feature speakers from across the mobile ecosystem, including many leading global brands and agencies.

The diversity of locations reflects the fact that although the mobile channel’s reach and effectiveness spans the globe, each region has unique market conditions, opportunities and needs. The New York event highlighted those by featuring insights from all four MMA regional directors, who represent Asia Pacific (APAC); Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Latin America; and North America.

All of the MMA regional directors provided plenty of real-world examples of mobile marketing’s bottom-line benefits. For instance, in the U.K., the Ariel detergent brand sent text messages to 400,000 housewives, achieving a 20 percent response rate and boosting in-store sales. In Japan, the AXE Wake-Up Girls mobile campaign increased deodorant sales 300 percent, a success that’s been duplicated in countries such as Turkey, too.

But don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself this fall.

What Do We Really Know About Consumers?

Turns out American’s didn’t splurge on trivial junk during this recession, and that means many experts don’t know today’s consumer as well as they thought they did.

Turns out Americans didn’t splurge on trivial junk during this recession, and that means many experts don’t know today’s consumer as well as they thought they did. At least that’s the takeaway from this article by Mina Kimes of CNN Money.

The prevailing assumptions about recessionary spending were based on studies of consumer spending during past recessions that showed Americans spending more on cheap indulgences during hard times. But as Kimes points out, that hasn’t held true during this recession. iPhone sales spiked while lipstick, liquor and candy dropped.

Some of those trends saw ups and downs (a previous report by Kimes indicated general cosmetics doing well last year), but overall, 2009’s cash-strapped consumers seemed to make purchase decisions more thoughtfully than in recessions past. Instead of cutting expensive items and indulging on the cheap, they made more complex calculations. They often saved money to buy expensive items, for example, sometimes by cutting out the very indulgences consumers might have wallowed in during “simpler” times. It appears that many took control of their finances instead of living hand-to-mouth, with some surprising retail results.

I wonder how much of that reflects a psychological shift in consumers, and how much reflects shifts in the retail market. Many goods are available at relatively low prices these days thanks to several decades of the biggest retailers competing on price (i.e. Wal-Mart). I’m not sure indulgent lipstick’s that much less expensive than a pair of bargain shoes. On the other hand, consumer electronics is not simply an entertainment purchase. People spend their careers using their personal laptops and smartphones as tools; so spending more can mean more money or better opportunities. Consumers are well versed in the investment calculation of these items: If you have to buy a phone and phone service anyway, why not choose the one you can carry with you and load with apps that make you more productive, or at least more entertained?

Consumers have changed, but the retail landscape may have changed even more. What can you assume about a nation of potential customers who constantly consider that?

That’s probably not surprising to those of you who read Target Marketing or All About ROI, which often talk about the importance of testing and verifying assumptions about your audience. At heart, direct marketing is a numbers game, and those successful at it know what my football line coach used to sum up: to “assume” makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

But even extensive testing doesn’t really take assumptions out of the equation. Who spends resources testing something they don’t expect to work? When you try something new, where did the idea come from? Usually an assumption. So even with testing, there’s a bias to test toward what we believe to be true. Adaptability is learning to recognize and react quickly when things we thought we knew turn out to be wrong.

So have consumers changed during this recession? Has that been the case for your customers? Are they acting against type, buying or not buying in ways that defied your expectations?

Margie Chiu’s 15 Minutes Ahead: Augmented Reality – Sure, It’s Cool, but What’s in It for Me?

If 2009 was the year of iPhone apps, then augmented reality may be the darling of 2010. It’s that Hollywood technology that’s found its way into Burger King banner ads, a slew of “must-have” smartphone apps, the cover of Esquire and soon Adidas shoes. 

If 2009 was the year of iPhone apps, then augmented reality (AR) may be the darling of 2010. It’s that Hollywood technology that’s found its way into Burger King banner ads, a slew of “must-have” smartphone apps, the cover of Esquire and soon Adidas shoes.

So, what’s it all about?
AR enhances the “real” physical world with contextually specific imagery or information. The AR experience is typically triggered in two ways.

The first is through location recognition via GPS/compass-enabled smartphones or other devices. With Wikitude, for example, you can point your camera phone toward a famous landmark and see an overlay of information about the destination pulled directly from Wikipedia.

The second is through image recognition via a video camera in your laptop, desktop or phone. With the USPS Virtual Box Simulator, you can hold up a package to your webcam and the simulator helps you determine the shipping box size you need.

What are the facts?

AR has captured more than its fair share of press coverage lately due to a handful of high-profile marketing application launches and the entry of major players into the space, including Google with its Google Goggles (think search on steroids), Nokia and Apple. But is 2010 the year AR takes over? Probably not.

Penetration of webcams is still limited, and the market share of GPS/compass-enabled smartphones is even lower. The installed base for webcams is estimated to be in the 15 percent to 20 percent range. As for smartphones, despite all the excitement (and what you and your tech-loving marketing friends are toting), more than 80 percent of all U.S. mobile phones are still limited-function, “nonsmart” phones.

Does this mean you don’t need to be thinking about AR? Try again. It’s a technology that will hit mass penetration in a couple of years. Many newly shipped computers now have webcams preinstalled. And two-thirds of Americans will be getting new phones within two years — and many of them have their sights set on smartphones.

What are the opportunities?
Whether and when AR should be considered as part of your marketing mix depends on your company, brand and audience. But the following are three potential marketing applications for AR:

1. Riding the buzz wave. Want to be perceived as hip and of the moment? This is the low-hanging fruit with any new technology. This opportunity is most applicable to the entertainment industry and/or companies targeting youths and early adopters. This is a tricky area, however. Speed is of the essence, as you want to be seen as being on the “bleeding edge.” Remember, though, to hang with the cool kids, you have to be, well, cool. Halfhearted attempts without a strategy or purpose will be viewed skeptically.

2. Bridging offline and online. AR can be an opportunity to smooth sales or service friction points that result from a lack of in-person interactions. Natural fits are with beauty, apparel or home furnishings e-commerce sites. Ray-Ban’s Virtual Mirror is a good example of this. It helps consumers find the perfect sunglasses. They just look right into their cameras and “try on” different looks.

3. Enhancing the real experience. Possibilities include helping customers find their way through a store or shopping center, on-demand product information, and more. Unfortunately, the limitation of GPS indoor signal strength and the complexity of image recognition will be significant near-term hurdles. But you might be inspired by the Voodoo Festival and its custom AR app, which enables festival attendees to use their camera phones to get details about performances and navigate the festival venue.

Thinking ahead
What would you do differently if device penetration wasn’t a barrier? Are there processes or experiences that can be enhanced through AR — either made more entertaining, informative or relevant? The possibility of AR is exciting. Creatively it opens a good many doors and forces marketers to look at customers’ experiences in a different way.

Stay tuned.